With millions of new cases every year, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in the world. Estimates suggest over 1.8 million new diagnoses in the United States in 2020, with over 600,000 deaths caused by cancer in the same year.
While science and technology continue to advance, developing the right treatments for cancer still remains a challenge. Much of this comes from the unknown nature of cancer. While there is an understanding that cancer is caused by genetic mutations, scientists still are not sure what causes those genetic mutations, beyond a broad understanding of family medical history, environmental factors, and lifestyle.
There are currently no known cures for cancer. The most common treatments for the disease involve surgical removal of cancerous tissue, often combined with radiation therapy and chemotherapy to eliminate microscopic cancer cells and prevent metastasis. While these treatments can be effective, they can also contribute to long recovery periods, a weakened immune system, and certain side effects that can be physically and mentally taxing.
Alternative treatments to cancer often aim to remove cancerous cells while minimizing invasiveness and preventing any harm to the immune system. Magnetic therapy is one such potential treatment that may show some promise in killing cancer cells. Read on to learn more about how magnets could potentially work as a means of treating cancer.
Understanding Magnetic Therapy
While it may seem like a new idea, people have considered the therapeutic effects of magnets for millennia. At least 2,000 years ago, folk healers in Europe and Asia apparently used magnets in their practices, believing that magnets could draw out diseases and impurities from the human body.
Today, the concept of magnetic therapy involves any application of an external magnetic field to the human body as a means of bringing about physiological changes and boosting health. This can appear in varying forms, most commonly static field magnetic therapy. This involves applying magnets to make contact with your skin and can take the form of magnetic bracelets, jewelry, shoe insoles, and special mattress pads. Electromagnetic therapy uses magnets that have been electrically charged, a process that usually involves electric pulses. So, do magnetic bracelets work and what is magnetic therapy used for?
The exact mechanisms of action behind magnetic therapy still require further study. The main idea involves the fact that all the molecules in your body do generate a small electric current that creates a slight magnetic energy. The theory behind magnetic therapy is that certain health conditions can throw this magnetic energy out of balance. Applying magnets in strategic areas near your body is believed to rebalance the body’s natural electromagnetic fields.
Similarly, your cells do contain certain charged ions, like calcium and potassium. These ions work to help your cells and nerves communicate and send signals. Magnetic therapy is believed to modify the way that ions act, which may help to boost certain aspects of your health.
These broad mechanisms have allowed for a wide range of potential applications for magnetic therapy. It is most cited for its potential to relieve pain, but studies on magnetic field exposure show promise for:
A form of electromagnetic therapy known as transcranial magnetic stimulation is a proven treatment for symptoms of depression. The noninvasive procedure uses electromagnetic coils to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. Unlike the static magnetic field a magnetic therapy bracelet creates, transcranial magnetic stimulation utilizes an alternating magnetic field for treatment. This is typically prescribed when a patient is unresponsive to medication and other treatments for depression. In fact, if you’re looking for additional information we cover magnetic therapy benefits.
Magnets and Cancer
Ongoing studies have been looking into how magnets may be applied to the treatment of cancer. The advantage would be the minimal invasiveness, meaning there would be no surgical procedures involved or lengthy recovery periods. Most importantly, magnetic therapy would reduce harm to healthy tissue surrounding tumors. Traditional surgery for removing tumors often requires at least some removal of healthy tissue to ensure the complete removal of cancerous cells.
In a study, mice were injected with breast cancer cells and then exposed to varying durations of magnetic fields with the hypothesis that magnetic exposure would influence the progression and growth of tumors. The results of the study found that mice exposed to magnetic fields for 360 minutes per day for upwards of four weeks led to suppressed tumor growth. The results showed that the magnets contributed to cancer cell death via apoptosis. Apoptosis is the natural process wherein cells die, controlling the number of cells. How the magnetic fields might have actually induced or supported apoptosis is still not well known, and more studies to determine the method of action and if the procedure can be replicated in human models.
A more feasible form of magnets for treating cancer involves magnetic nanoparticles and hyperthermia therapy. Hyperthermia, sometimes referred to as thermal therapy or thermotherapy, is a type of cancer treatment that harnesses high temperatures to treat cancer. Cancerous tissue is exposed to temperatures up to 113° Fahrenheit to destroy the abnormal cells. Research has shown that high temperatures can damage and even kill cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue relatively intact. The high heat can damage proteins and structures within cancer cells, potentially leading to smaller tumors. This procedure is almost always combined with other types of cancer treatment, particularly radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Local hyperthermia treats small areas and individual tumors, while regional hyperthermia treats whole limbs or organs. Whole body hyperthermia may help with cancer that has spread throughout the body.
Studies show that magnets can potentially accomplish similar localized hyperthermia. Magnetic nanoparticles can be injected directly into or near tumors. The nanoparticles are then activated using an alternating magnetic field. That activation heats the nanoparticles up, allowing for the high temperatures to kill the cancer cells.
The effectiveness of magnetic hyperthermia depends on how well the tumor cells (but not the healthy cells) absorb the magnetic nanoparticles. Bulgarian scientists studied nanoparticles made up of ferrite, an iron oxide material, that is combined with cobalt, copper, manganese, or nickel atoms. The studies were conducted on mice and cell cultures, using different heating methods: direct and indirect coupling. The study showed that the tumor absorption rate depended on the diameter of the nanoparticles. Larger particle diameters were found to contribute to an increased absorption rate. More research is necessary to determine the application methods and the optimal metal combination for the nanoparticles.
The exact effectiveness of magnets as a form of therapy is still not well understood. We know that the electromagnetic fields used in magnetic field exposure interact with cells, but modern medicine is still unable to use them with total success. Performing more research can lead to greater insight into how to optimally apply magnets, both in terms of the intensity and length of exposure, to treat any health condition, including cancer. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, consult with your doctor to determine the best options for treatment.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.